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Jun 9, 2008 02:39 PM

Ipswich Clams at Jersey shore

Where can i get Ipswich clams and/or hard shell crabs in A.C. or Margate /Ventnor or Long Beach island?

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  1. As you’re probably experiencing, soft shell or Ipswich clams are very hard to find in NJ. The only place I found on the web that had them (fried with bellies) was Mr. Shrimp in Belmar, NJ. I’ve never been there so I can’t vouch for their quality. I’d also call first before going to make sure they had them on hand.

    If you go there or find them someplace else, please post your findings. My wife is from the Boston, MA area and gets a craving for them at least once a year.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TomDel

      Wow! This blows me away! I'm a Jersey Boy. Twenty years ago the Inlet Cafe, Atlantic Highlands, I ate all the steamed clams you could ear for $6.95 on my birthday. Tomorrow is my birthday and I plan to pig out on $1.50 / lb steamers, here in Maine and I still dig 'em.

      1. re: Passadumkeg

        Haven't been to Inlet Cafe since last summer, but we plan to go this summer for the steamers. Hopefully they are as good as they were last year!

        1. re: mjcs

          I was curious so I e-mailed the Inlet Café and asked them what kind of clams they used for their steamers and fried clams. Their response was, “Our steamers are soft shell with the foot/tail coming out and fried clam are strips”. So the steamers are the “Ipswich” clams like you’d get in New England and the fried clams are probably made from the muscle in a quahog or surf clam. The latter are just larger versions of the hard shell clams we in NJ eat on the half shell or use to make clams casino. Some places use hard shell clams to make “steamers”. These can be okay if they are only steamed just until they open. If cooked any longer they can get tough and rubbery. I’m still looking for a place in NJ that has fried Ipswich clams with bellies, not clam strips.

    2. I live in southern NJ and I wasn't familiar with Ipswitch clams untill a couple recent threads here on chowhound. I've read of Ipswitch, steamers, softshells and fried bellies as though they were all one and the same. Last night I was dining at Quahogs in Stone Harbor and they had fried clam bellies on the menu, so I tried them and they were great. Usually around here Fried clams are strips of larger clams that are fried in batter and have a fried calamari like texture. These on the other hand sort of exploded in your mouth like a cajun style fried oyster. I had a chance to meet the chef later in the evening, and hey told me that in some areas little neck clams are refered to as "soft-shells" because of there relatively thin shells compared to cherrystone, top-neck, etc. So what I had there was apparently Ipswitch style fried clams that were littlenecks that had been shucked and fried.

      When I got home I did some research and found that soft shell clams are not Quahogs at all but have a soft friable shell, also known as long necks, and in New England are known as "steamers". Even more confusion, because in NJ "steamers" refer to steamed little necks served with butter. I've never seen Ipswitch clams here in NJ, but I'll try some if I ever get the chance when I'm traveling.

      So there is a bit of regional confusion. Here's what I learned if you're dining in NJ:

      If you see fried clam bellies or even soft shell clams on a menu, you'll be getting whole shucked fried little necks.

      If you order fried clams, they'll be fried strips of larger clams, top necks probably.

      If you order steamers, you'll get steamed little necks served with butter.

      So if you're from New England, if the menu doesn't say "Ipswitch Clams", you might not get what you're expecting.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rocket88

        How times change. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up in Jersey, we used to dig soft shell calms and we called them "pissers" because of the stream of water they shot out of their hole. At both The Hoboken Clam Broth House and The Inlet Cafe as well as our own local jargon, they were "stamers" and one could find all you can eat specials. Cherry stones and little necks were eaten on the half shell or used in Ital. or Port. sauces. Surf clams or big hard shell calms we called chowderers and made chowder or clams casino. We used to buy cherry stones, by the bushel, and shuck them around the camp fire at The Delaware Water Gap then known as Worthington State Park. I didn't learn the word Quohog until I moved to Maine 20 years ago, and the name Ipswitch calm is new to me, except for a town on the North shore of Boston, known for it's steamers. We used to get NJ lobsters too. Does any of this make sense?

      2. The ipswich clams are fresh and quite delicious, just not terribly large portion for 18.99